Aikey's Pepsi Nationals win makes Deery history
WEST BURLINGTON, Iowa (Sept. 2) — Jeff Aikey made Deery Brothers Summer Series history again Sunday, on another history-making night at 34 Raceway.
The Waterloo, Iowa, veteran won the Pepsi USA Nationals, the 400th event in the IMCA Late Model tour’s 26-plus seasons. The six-time series champion and current point leader earned $5,000 and lap money for the victory. His career total of 57 Deery feature wins now includes three Pepsi triumphs. | Slideshow
Defending race winner Andy Eckrich chased Aikey across the finish line. Jay Johnson ran second much of the way and ended in third; Matt Strassheim and Ray Guss Jr. completed the top five in the 50-lapper.
Mike Murphy Jr., winner of the April Deery feature at 34, started inside Eckrich on the front row and led the first 19 circuits before getting caught in lapped traffic.
Aikey, who had started eighth, was quick to take advantage and passed Murphy for the lead with Johnson and Eckrich in tow.
Johnson stayed on Aikey’s back bumper through restarts on laps 31, 36 and 37. Eckrich finally wrestled the spot away but couldn’t catch Aikey, ending three lengths off the pace.
Notes: Aikey was also the Pepsi winner in 1998 and 1999. This year’s event had been postponed from Saturday because of inclement weather. ... Darrel DeFrance was 10th in his 400th consecutive series event. Johnson won the $250 Sunoco Race Fuels feature qualifier drawing. ... Mike Murphy Jr.’s pole start netted him a set of heads from Brodix. ... Eight drivers who took the green flag in Sunday’s main event had perfect series attendance coming into the night and earned $99 Ideal Ready Mix Ironman Challenge cash bonuses. ... Aikey, Eckrich, Johnson, Guss, Murphy, DeFrance, Joel Callahan and Justin Kay can all earn additional bonuses of the same amount by maintaining perfect attendance and qualifying for features at Boone, the Yankee Dirt Track Classic Sept. 14-15 at Farley Speedway, and the Sept. 22 series finale at Davenport Speedway. ... Next up for the Deery Series is Monday’s Labor Day event at Boone Speedway, on opening night of the IMCA Speedway Motors Super Nationals. Pit gates open at 10 a.m. and registration for Late Models continues until 5 p.m. Sept. 3.
Pepsi USA Nationals: (1) Jeff Aikey, (2) Andy Eckrich, (3) Jay Johnson, (4) Matt Strassheim, (5) Ray Guss Jr., (6) Jason Utter, (7) Colby Springsteen, (8) Joel Callahan, (9) Tom Goble, (10) Darrel DeFrance, (11) Nate Beuseling, (12) Sam Halstead, (13) Jay Chenoweth, (14) Tyler Bruening, (15) Justin Kay, (16) Mike Murphy Jr., (17) Mark Burgtorf, (18) Tom Bowling Jr., (19) Matt Ryan, (20) Lonnie Bailey, (21) LeRoy Brenner, (22) Rob Toland, (23) Kurt Kile, (24) Kyle Hinrichs. Heat race winners (among 27 cars): Bowling, Eckrich, Springsteen. Consolation winner: Burgtorf. Provisional starters: Chenoweth, Kile, Hinrichs.